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Five Ways to Fight Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation

June 14, 2018 • By

Last Updated: June 14, 2018

Lance Robertson HHS Studio shot

As Americans, we believe that people of all ages and abilities deserve to be treated fairly and equally and to live free from abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Tomorrow, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we join the world in recognizing the importance of elders to our communities and standing up for their rights. Here are five ways you can join this fight.

1. Break Down Isolation

We cannot talk about elder abuse without talking about social isolation. Elders without strong social networks face a greater risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It is up to all of us to ensure that our communities are supporting and engaging older adults. One simple way to do this is by staying in touch with the older adults in your community. So go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s door just to say “hi” or start an intergenerational book club or movie night. You can also support community efforts to empower elders and fight isolation; act by volunteering to deliver meals or serve as a long-term care ombudsman.

2. Learn to Spot “Red Flags”

There are a number of “red flags” that could suggest the presence of elder abuse. Examples include:

  • Isolation (especially by a caregiver);
  • Unpaid bills or utilities that have been turned off;
  • Unusual or quick changes in a will or other financial documents;
  • Missing medications; and
  • Bruises or welts (especially on the face).

Even if you are not certain abuse is taking place, you can report any suspicions of abuse so a professional can investigate.

3. Connect With Resources in Your Community

There are a variety of local resources in your community that help address elder abuse and social isolation. Adult Protective Services agencies investigate, and can respond to, suspected abuse. Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs advocate for residents of care facilities. Area Agency on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers can offer meals, health and wellness programs, and caregiver support programs, and Older Americans Act Legal Services Providers can offer legal help. The Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) can connect you to all of these programs.

4. Watch Out for Scams and Fraud

Whether it is a foreign prince or a mystery caller with an exclusive “investment opportunity,” scammers steal billions of dollars from seniors every year. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself:

  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry online or call 888-382-1222 to reduce telemarketing calls.
  • If you suspect Social Security fraud, report it online or call 800-269-0271.
  • Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Check with a lawyer or trusted family member before signing any document you do not completely understand.

5. Talk About It

Many older adults who face abuse, neglect, or exploitation feel guilty or ashamed about their experience. One study found that for every reported case of elder abuse, 23 cases go unreported. We must become more comfortable talking about abuse in a way that makes clear that everyone, no matter what their age, is worthy of dignity and respect. Victims should never feel embarrassed or feel that they are responsible for the abuse they experienced.

The abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults goes against everything we stand for as a country. Tomorrow, as we recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and throughout the year, let’s take a stand for justice. You can find more resources at the National Center on Elder Abuse, an Administration for Community Living resource center.


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  1. Frank t.

    I need legal représentation
    I have been scammed and need to file bankruptcy.
    I cannot afford to an attorney any more . i need help

  2. Sirita R.

    My sister is my mom’s payee and has allow my druggie sister to live in my mom’s house and knows she is being abuse in so many ways .and doesn’t kick my sister out what can I do about this

  3. Connie S.

    I was personally ripped off by a local realtor. I have not been able to get her charged and do not know how to proceed. I cannot afford a lawyer.

  4. Vishnu K.

    Where to report ” Non Physical Abuse ” for Senior Citizen in Santa Clara County, California?
    How the law helps to prove a ” Non Physical Abuse ” ?
    Can you provide more information about ” Non Physical Abuse “

  5. karen r.

    I’m in a wheelchair and I was abused at Union Rescue Mission they sold all my money my ID and everything in the staff woke me up at 3 in the morning what I had to be Caesar my leg and they tried to fight me and I’m in a wheelchair

  6. Luke P.

    Very interesting to know about these things

  7. Ola M.

    This was a very informative article about elder abuse and provides some good info. to help us. I really appreciate this mail from Social Security and writers like Lance Robertson. There are other articles that I am anxious to read. I am experiencing a problem now because I was scammed by a repair man.
    I shared this on Facebook because many don’t get email like this, also younger friends with parents need to read it.

  8. Dorothy C.

    Hi! I was a victim! Fraud. Hacked in my checking and put his name on my account! Stole. All my. Household items. Jewelry. Diabetic shoes he was a computer wiz! He killed my dog. All together! $6800 I lost plus .he is in jail. But on going case. Iam a senior 76 yrs old he was 30? Wanted in other states! Seniors be ware.

    • Snarky

      I’ll keep a close eye out and if I see him I’ll let you know.

  9. Paula C.

    Thanks so VERY much for this particular update. I live in a senior complex and in spite of the activities, loneliness is still one of the biggest problems. Families today are too busy with their own lives to be with their elder parents who raised them, so there’s much sorrow.

  10. val b.

    Elder abuse happens with professionals, family members, neighbors, caregivers and volunteers, and even strangers.
    What missing is harsh penalties for the abuses and more education. I think sometimes people may not understand what they are doing is wrong. We need more education.

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